Rose Youth Foundation Year in Review; Reflections from a RYF Member

In March 2020, the 19th cohort of Rose Youth Foundation (RYF) collaboratively awarded $60,000 to support organizations and programs addressing teen mental health in the Greater Denver community. The grant recipients – Believe It Or Not I Care (BIONIC) Teams, Florence Crittenton Services, Grief Support Network, Project PAVE and Spark the Change – work to increase the access and affordability of mental health services for teens.

“During this time of crisis, the lessons and practices of Jewish collaborative giving have never been more relevant,” says Emily Kornhauser, Rose Community Foundation’s Initiatives Manager. “All of us are being called upon to act collectively as individuals for the health and safety of our community, particularly for the vulnerable and in-need. This RYF cohort has been living and practicing that mentality from the start of the program, when it chose the Jewish values of Lo ta’amod al dam rei’echa (do not stand idly by), v’hechezekta bo (you shall strengthen) and pikuach nefesh (safe life) to guide their giving.”

Below, second-year member Chloe Hansen reflects on her time with RYF and shares her biggest takeaways about the impact of collaborative giving.

As my second and final year as a Rose Youth Foundation (RYF) member comes to a close, my greatest takeaway has been the positive impact collaborative philanthropy can have on our community. Before RYF, I was unaware that nonprofit organizations have the ability to drastically affect people’s lives, often with limited funding and staff. Throughout my time as a RYF member, I have had the opportunity to visit and meet with staff at four nonprofit organizations: Maria Droste Counseling Center, Project Worthmore, Second Wind Fund of Denver, and Jewish Family Service of Colorado. At each, my understanding and awareness of the needs of the Denver community grew.

It is one thing to learn about philanthropy through articles and by word of mouth, but another to participate first hand. As an RYF member, I was given the opportunity to take action and make change in my community. During my first year, I was amazed to read grant proposals from organizations working to help immigrants and refugees in Denver. These proposals came alive during site visits, where we conducted meetings with the staff behind the magic. Often, we were able to meet with participants of the programs, to hear about their experience receiving services and participating in programs. My second year, I had the opportunity to visit organizations striving to improve teen mental health. As a teen myself, advocating for better mental health services for those around me was inspiring and rewarding.

My personal favorite aspect of the site visits was hearing the passion from each of the staff members. On a site visit to Project Worthmore, executive director Frank Anello reminded us that while people often look for diversity in different countries and across the world, most of the time you only need to look across the street. This thought caused me to reevaluate how I saw and interacted with the community around me, inspiring me to be more aware and appreciative of different cultures and what I can learn from them. As a group, Rose Youth Foundation decided to fund Project Worthmore’s English language program for refugees in Denver. I was lucky enough to make the call, telling the staff at Project Worthmore our funding decision. At 16 years old, it was an amazing experience to tell an organization they were going to receive a grant to help further their program.

I am leaving Rose Youth Foundation with a deeper understanding and love for philanthropy. RYF has given me the opportunity to participate in making the Denver community a better place and has inspired me to continue my philanthropic journey outside of this program. I am so grateful to have been a member of Rose Youth Foundation, and look forward to watching the growth of our Denver community.

RYF is an initiative of Rose Community Foundation that engages Jewish high school students in collaborative grantmaking. The program empowers teens to use the tools of strategic philanthropy to make a substantial difference. Over eight months, the 26 members of Rose Youth Foundation work together to discuss what it means to give in a Jewish way, explore community issues, determine a funding priority, meet with nonprofit leaders and ultimately determine how to grant $60,000 to improve our community. Please consider supporting the future of Jewish teen philanthropic leadership through the Rose Youth Foundation Endowment.


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